5005 - Reporting Abuse and Neglect

Policy 5005 Reporting Abuse and Neglect title box

It is the policy of the Board of Directors of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, Bennington School District, Inc., Mount Anthony Union School District, North Bennington Graded School District, Pownal School District, Shaftsbury School District, and Woodford School, and the purpose of this policy, to implement the mandates under 33 V.S.A. § 4913, protect children whose health and welfare may be jeopardized by abuse and neglect, and to ensure that school district employees meet their legal reporting obligations under 33 V.S.A. § 4913. It is further the purpose this policy to make clear to school district employees that it is not their role to be the investigator, judge, or jury in cases of suspected abuse or neglect. Rather, it is the role of school district employees to be faithful and timely reporters of suspected abuse or neglect so that allegations can be brought to the attention of objective, trained, and experienced investigators.
  • Any school district employee, regardless of whether he or she is a "mandated reporter", shall report suspected child abuse or neglect to the Family Services Division (FSD) of the Department for Children and Families and will then notify the principal or his or her designee. If the Principal or designee is the person suspected of child abuse or the person who suspects the abuse or neglect, a report should be made directly to the FSD/DCF.
  • Any school district employee who is a "mandated reporter" (as defined below), in addition to reporting such suspected abuse or neglect to the principal, shall immediately report the suspected abuse or neglect to FSD/DCF 800-649-5285. School district employees who are not "mandated reporters" should also report suspected abuse or neglect to FSD/DCF, or cause such a report to be made.
  • Upon receiving a report, the principal or designee, as the case may be, shall remind any mandated reporter of his or her legal responsibility to further report immediately to FSD/DCF.

TRAINING

All staff shall receive training in reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. Such training shall include assistance in recognizing the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect.

AVAILABILITY OF POLICY

This policy shall be provided each year to the parents of students in attendance and to each employee of the school district, including substitute teachers. Further, this policy shall be posted in at least one prominent place within each school building.

LEGAL REFERENCES:

33 VSA Chapter 49, Subchapter 2, Reporting Abuse of Children
33 V.S.A. Chapter 69. Reports of Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of Elderly and Disabled Adults
16 V.S.A. § 563a, School Boards; Prevention, Identification, and Reporting Of Child Sexual Abuse And Sexual Violence
33 V.S.A. Chapter 71

CROSS REFERENCE:

Policy 5004 - Prohibition of Student Harassment

Policy 5005 warning and adoption dates

DEFINITIONS:

A. The Department for Children and Families ("DCF") is the agency of the State of Vermont charged with receiving reports of suspected child abuse or neglect, investigating the cases, and if the report is founded, developing a plan of services that will strengthen families and provide a safe environment for children.

B. "Mandated Reporter" means a school superintendent, school teacher, school librarian, day care worker, school principal, school guidance counselor, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, psychologist, and any other health care provider, mental health professional, social worker, probation officer, police officer, physician, surgeon, osteopath, chiropractor, physician's assistant, resident physician, intern, hospital administrator, medical examiner, dentist, camp owner, camp administrator, or camp counselor.

C. "Immediately" means as soon as the abuse or neglect is suspected but in no case later than twenty-four (24) hours after such abuse or neglect is suspected.

D. "Suspected" means the school district employee has reasonable cause to believe such abuse or neglect occurred. This does not mean that the employee must be convinced the abuse or neglect occurred; only that it might have occurred. Any doubts the employee may have shall be resolved in favor of reporting the suspicion. Further, the employee shall not refrain from making a report under this policy for the reason that there may be retaliation against the child, the employee has a confidential relationship with the child, or for any other reason no matter how well intentioned.

E. "Report" means an oral or written description of the suspected abuse or neglect. If the report is made orally, the reporter should make a written notation of the person to whom the report was made and when the report was made. A report made to FSD/DCF shall contain the following: (1) the name and address of the reporter; (2) the name and address, if any, of the child and the child's parents or other person responsible for the child's care; (3) the age of the child; (4) the nature and extent of the child's injuries, together with any evidence of previous abuse of neglect of the child or the child's siblings; and (5) any other information the reporter believes might be helpful.

F. "Abused or neglected child" means a child under the age of eighteen (18) whose physical health, psychological growth and development, or welfare is harmed or is at substantial risk of harm by the acts or omissions of the child's parent or other person, who may be responsible for the child's welfare (e.g., guardian, foster parent, step parent, teacher, etc.). An "abused or neglected child" also means a child who is sexually abused or is substantially at risk of sexual abuse, by any person. Harm can occur by physical injury or emotional maltreatment, by allowing such harm to occur, by failing to provide a child with adequate food, clothing, shelter or health care, or by abandonment of the child.

G. "Sexual abuse" means any act by any person involving sexual molestation or exploitation of a child including, but not limited to, incest, prostitution, rape, sodomy, or any lewd and lascivious conduct involving a child. Sexual abuse also includes the aiding, abetting, counseling, hiring, or procuring of a child to perform or participate in any photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, or other presentation which, in whole or in part, depicts sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse involving a child. NOTE: BEHAVIOR WHICH CONSTITUTES SEXUAL ABUSE MAY ALSO BE SEXUAL HARASSMENT. HOWEVER, FOLLOWING THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S POLICY ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT DOES NOT FULFILL A MANDATORY REPORTER'S LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER FSD/DCF REPORTING LAW. SUSPECTED SEXUAL ABUSE MUST BE REPORTED TO FSD/DCF.

H. "Emotional Maltreatment" means a pattern of malicious behavior, which results in impaired psychological growth and development.

I. "Risk of harm" means a significant danger that a child will suffer serious harm other than by accidental means, which harm would be likely to cause physical injury, neglect, emotional maltreatment or sexual abuse.

MANDATED REPORTING OF Child Abuse/Neglect in Vermont

If you work in one of the professions listed on the back, you are a mandated reporter and this information applies to you.

What is my legal obligation?

Mandated reporters are legally required to report suspected abuse/neglect to the Family Services Division (FSD) - within 24 hours of receiving or observing information related to the suspect abuse/neglect.

How do I make a report?

Call us at 1-800-649-5285 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

If a child is in immediate danger:
  • Dial 911 or your local police first; and
  • Then, call FSD to make a report.

Where can I get more information?

Visit mandatedreporters.vt.gov to:
  • Learn more about reporting;
  • Sign up to get email updates; and
  • Participate in online training.

Vermont's Child Protection Line
Call FSD to report suspected child abuse neglect (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

1-800-649-5285 - mandatedreporters.vt.gov

Mandated Reports in Vermont

A mandated reporter is any:
  • Health care provider, including any chiropractor, dentist, emergency medical personnel, hospital administrator, intern, licensed practical nurse, medical examiner, osteopath, pharmacist, physicaian, physician assistant, psychologist, registered nurse, resident physician, and surgeon;
  • Individual who is employed by a school district or an approved or recognized independent school, or contracted and paid by a school district or an approved or recognized independent school to provide student services, including any school superintendent, school principal, headmaster of an approved or recognized independent school, school teacher, student teacher, school librarian, and school guidance counselor;
  • Agency of Human Resources employee, contractor, or grantee who has contact with clients;
  • Camp administrator, counselor, and owner;
  • Mental health professional; and
  • Child care worker, clergy member, police officer, probation officer, and social worker.

Tip: Before you call, try to have as much information on hand as possible (e.g., the child's name, date of birth, address, school or child care provider, and parents' names).
Protecting children is everyone's business!

Make a Report with Adult Protective Services (APS)

http://www.dlp.vermont.gov/abuse-reporting-form

Make a report to APS if you believe a vulnerable adult was abused, neglected, or exploited by an alleged perpetrator. You should make a report if you feel that a vulnerable adult has been harmed because of actions (or inaction) taken by a specific person or persons. In most cases, this requires the alleged perpetrator to either intentionally or recklessly harm the vulnerable adult. Vermont Law establishes who vulnerable adults are and what constitutes abuse, neglect and exploitation.

You can make a report to APS in the following ways:

  1. Telephone Toll Free: (800) 564-1612 This is the preferred method to make a report, as it will give APS staff the opportunity to talk with you about the situation and to gather information to help us best serve the vulnerable adult. We are available Monday through Friday, typically from 7:45am to 4:30pm. If you call after hours or on the weekend, please leave a message and we will call you back the next business day.
  2. Online Report Make a Report
  3. EmailAHS.DAILDLPIntake@vermont.gov
  4. Fax: (802) 241-0342 To help ensure that APS has the information necessary to act on your report, please consider the reporting recommendations below.
  5. Mail: Adult Protective Services Intake, HC 2 South, 280 State Drive, Waterbury, VT 05671-2020. We do not recommend filing a report by mail.

General Guidelines for Making a Report

  • Describe why you suspect a vulnerable adult has been abused, neglected or exploited. If possible, include a description of any incidents, to include locations and dates and how you became aware of this issue.
  • Tell us if this abuse, neglect or exploitation is ongoing at the current time.
  • Tell us who you are, how you know the vulnerable adult, how to contact you and how you know about this situation.
  • Tell us who the alleged victim is, how to contact them and how it is they are vulnerable. Also, let us know if reaching out to them could put them in danger.
  • Tell us who the alleged perpetrator is, how they are related to the alleged victim and how to contact them.
  • Tell us if there are any risks to our Investigator, such as potentially violent investigation participants or aggressive dogs at an investigation participant's home.